“Who writes your songs?” we are often asked at gigs. “We share songwriting credits between us” is the simple answer and sometimes this is enough. Sometimes not though and we are then asked, “but who actually writes your songs”. OK, so I’ll tell you, but first a cautionary tale.
In our last blog I gave the opinion that most people get into music for the love of their art and the vast majority make very little, or no money. Great; so why, I now ask myself, do so many successful bands break up over money issues? If they only care for their art why argue over money? There are so many ways this might happen, but here is one scenario. Band member X is the key songwriter, but this doesn’t matter because they are all broke anyway. The band gets some success and a couple of albums in the rest of the band may notice that X has houses and cars they don’t have paid for by royalties. Band member Y and Z suddenly discover an interest in songwriting and arguments take place over who gets their songs on the album. Y questions why he doesn’t get royalties for the amazing guitar riff he put to the acoustic ballad X brought to the band. Y claims the riff is the main hook of the song. Acrimony, band break up and legal action follows.
So how does this fit in with the idealistic views of the last post? I’m not sure it does, but maybe the answer is that money is a great corruptor of men and if I was naïve it is because I am yet to have the pleasure of being corrupted by it. With ample examples of the damage money can cause in mind, when Candi’s Dog got together we decided to split songwriting credits between us and everything else we earn is shared collectively regardless of who has done what and where. Obviously some songs are more the work of one individual or another, but how can you possibly work out how much percentage I might be due for adding a section to a song Matthew has brought and how much should Daniel have for arranging a song etc. etc. Somewhere along the line we all contribute something, and we really have more important things to argue about like when seasons start.
A cynic might add that at this stage in our career we make so little to make such argument pointless, but if great wealth does come, I hope we’ll share it equally, we’ll be nice to each other, stay together and we’ll avoid the pitfalls faced by other bands. And even if we ended up, like so many bands before splitting up, hating each other and dragging each other through the courts, we could always follow their example when the money dries up and head our on a lucrative reunion tour.